Chingaza National Park
Chingaza National Park
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Duration: More than 3 hours
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5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles61 reviews
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GeneralShamu
New York City, NY1,131 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021
Visited here as part of a day trip to do a nature/wildlife trek. The walk was not difficult/strenuous at all - but you feel the altitude. We specifically did this on our third full day in Bogotá as we knew we'd need some acclimation time. The weather is chilly so dress warm.

The wildlife is generally not afraid of humans. As such, so long as you respect it they will approach you as they forage for food, etc... And *that* is why we did this tour!
Written November 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RDubNJ
Mercerville, NJ44 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2016 • Friends
Excellent day trip out of Bogotá. About 4 hours of total hiking and a 500 meter elevation gain to a little over 3600 meters. It's mostly uphill all the way to the Lagunas, but the views are magical.

Don't go until you've gotten used to the altitude in Bogotá for a couple of days minimum. The climb isn't overly rugged, but the thin air will get you.

We used Caminates Del Retorno.
Written March 30, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelFamilia6
Bogota, Colombia116 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2015 • Family
Chingaza Natural National Park is not easy to get to, but it's well worth your time. What was supposed to take 1 1/2 hrs from Bogota took over 2 hrs - multiple stops to find out what direction to go in (poor signage), and at the very end of the trip a blown radiator! Alls well that ends well though because we had an incredible time. There is an official website - call for reservations. Evidently they only allow 40 people in per day. You need decent car to get there. We did not know that they recommend you bring a guide from Chingaza - but it helps keep the locals employed and it would have been helpful (only Spanish though). There is about a 15-20 min hike into the park before you get to the ranger station where you pay and watch a video about the park. Then you set off on a "trail" - it's very rugged and not really a path but you sort of figure it out. There is absolutely NO trash - love it! You can bring in cameras and a backpack/food, but leave no trace. There are 3 lakes, but we only got to 2 of them before it started to rain and was So cold we turned back (about 1 1/2 hrs into the hike). It's a paramo - a very fragile ecosystem and a well kept secret. I've been in Bogota for over 6 yrs and didn't know about this place, and have not met one person (Colombian or otherwise) who has been here before. It does get very cold the higher you go in elevation. BRING GLOVES/HAT/JACKET! I had a jacket and scarf, but I was freezing! My kids were in heaven scrambling up the trail. My husband and I were more careful walking up - it's not a smooth, hard trail, but uneven, and you really have to watch where you step. Overall, a great trip. Oh - no parking per se - you park on the side of a little road. If it has recently rained, that will add to the difficulty of getting there on the roads. Huge cars/trucks won't fit, but a small car might not make it.
Written April 2, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JAVIER M
Fiji17 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2015 • Friends
chingaza@parquesnacionales.gov.co

Is the place where you will go to disconnect from the City.

Is a national park, water producer, where you will find peace, rest, silence, routes, animals, forestry.
For a weekend, you must book several weeks in advance.
We were 8 friends, we have our own food for BBQ.
There are small bbq sites with electricity, camping sites, baths, showers, fishing rivers, etc.
You can't be highly noisy, you must be clean, and is forbidden touch or call the animals.
Is very very very cold, so you need thermal clothes. Is recommended go in a SUV or big car, but a small can pass without major problems.
I recommend a lot if you have the attitude. Don't go with annoying persons that cry or don't like nature and prefer comfortable hotels. Is not for them.
Enjoy it, take good pics and care a lot. Is a pearl.
Written June 2, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

fiishro
15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2017 • Friends
I would highly recommend this national park to anyone visiting Cundinamarca. I've been to many national parks in my life, and this was without a doubt among the best. The park is huge and offers a huge variety of ecosystems, flora and fauna that is endemic to the region. The water system in Chingaza is extremely important for the region, so only 40 visitors are allowed in per day, making the experience even more special. With that said, you must book at least 2 weeks in advance to secure your place. Transport to the park is also quite difficult. Despite the challenges, i would strongly encourage anyone in the area to make this a priority. It is well worth it.
Written December 8, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steve H
Bogota, Colombia267 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2013 • Family
We're driving slowly up the hill to Chingaza National Park, a wet mountain wilderness just east of Bogota. The city is now far behind and we've passed through the lush hills of La Calera and its bucolic fincas, small farms with wood-smoke curling up from homestead chimneys. Craggy mountains loom ahead, their sides coated in stunted woodland shrouded in puffs of grey clouds. The dirt road in front climbs the flanks of barren ridges, a yellow ribbon running into the grey clouds. The air chills. It´s all looking a bit Middle Earth. Is this is how the Hobbits felt leaving the Shire? The sudden appearance of the skeletal hulk of an abandoned cement factory seals the deal. Are we on the road to Mordor?

But there are no trolls or orcs up here. In fact the first sign of life is a cute white-tailed deer calmly grazing by the roadside. The kids are thrilled, convinced that (being close to christmas) we have now arrived at reindeer HQ, or at least a sub-branch of the North Pole. Actually we arrive at Piedras Gordas, the Chingaza park entrance. Friendly park wardens check our entry permit and show us a short video on the park fauna and flora, and clips or pictures of pumas, foxes, mountain tapirs, condors, spectacled bears which live in the zone. We push on into the park.

Chingaza covers 70,000 hectares of rugged moorland called paramó, a tundra-like wetland unique to the high Andes. At lower altitudes this is formed of dense thickets of amazingly diverse flowering shrubs. The higher paramó is grasses and mosses and the frailejones, a flowering plant with leathery leaves and a long stem. This high moorland looks like the toughest parts of the Scottish highlands - with more rain. Which means a lot of rain. In fact the whole of Chingaza is one mega-marsh that sponges up the water from tropical clouds steaming up the hill from the hot llanos plains below. Supposedly 99% of the water then seeps out to flow back as rivers back into the Orinoco thousands of kilometers east. And 1% flows west to become Bogota´s water supply. Just 1%. For a city of 8 million people. Get the picture? Mucha agua. So, yes, bring a raincoat, rubber boots (and, if you´re an optimist, suncream).

There are plenty of walking trails and a campsite at the park centre, Monteredondo on the banks of the Embalse de Chuza, (the dam lake that collects all that water for Bogota and sends it by tunnels to La Calera). The headache is that since you need to pre-book your visit with National Parks, so you can´t just stick your head out of the window in Bogota and say ´oh, the mountains look nice today, lets go camp in Chingaza´. So we decided to ditch the hiking or camping option and just go for the day by car.

Chingaza´s bleak climate ensures the rather miraculous fact that such an area so rich in wildlife and so devoid of human life can exist so close to a mega-city like Bogota. In fact some corners of the park are still being explored. Hunting of large mammals has taken its toll, though, and the Andean spectacled bear was almost wiped out in the park a few decades back, and only a few (15 at the last count) have reestablished, and they are very shy, and only really seen with trap-cameras. Condors have also been hunted down, though a few pairs remain.
For the casual car visitor like us the chances of any significant wildlife sighting is very low. Anyway we are not really appropriately camouflaged to spot wildlife.
So instead we enjoy the scenery and the soggy vegetation.

The wet, acid, cold organic soils of the paramó are not very fertile, which explains the slow and stunted growth of the plantlife. Ironically though the tough ambience has also created a diversity of life here. Paramó is one of the most rapidly-evolving ecosystems on the planet. It is also quite delicate. Draining of highland swamps, for example to graze cattle or grow potatoes, has destroyed many if these rich habitats. Chingaza's role as Bogota´s water supply has been a key reason for its protection over the years.

We have pass the park office at Monteredondo, and drive another hour over the hills to the Laguna de Chingaza, a misty lake in the heart of the park, and eat our sandwiches in the drizzle by the banks of the Rio La Playa, a fast clear river where some other visitors are trying to catch trout. A park warden warns us to get out of the park by 3pm, when the ´serious clouds arrive´ and it will be hard to see the road ahead. We start heading home.

Five hours later, back home in Bogota, I get some water from the tap - a little bit of liquid Chingaza. I´ll drink to that!

Practicalities
Booking
In theory you have to book three weeks in advance via the National Parks website, or call them on 01 353 2400 ext 138, or email to reservas.ecoturismo@parquesnacionales.gov.co, with your proposed dates for entry.
Then comes the usual bureaucracy of paying the entry fee (US$6 / day for locals, US$15 for foreigners), scanning and sending the bank receipt, and getting the entry permit by email.

Altitude Sickness
Since the road climbs to 3500 meters (almost a kilometer higher than Bogota) then there is a risk of sorroche or mal de paramó. This is unlikely to affect people living in Bogota, but recent arrivals to the city (less than a week) may suffer from headaches at this higher altitude. Tips for this are

• do not undertake any physical exertion
• drink plenty of warm or hot sugary fluids (tea or hot chocolate).
• use mild painkillers for headaches (acetaminophen or ibuprofen).

In my experience coca cola is the best cure for altitude headaches, it has plenty of sugar and caffeine. (It also works for hangovers).

What to bring
Binoculars, raincoat, warm clothes, boots, snacks, drinks.

Roads/Time/Distances
Route is well signposted from La Calera. Small 4x2 cars can make it into park, but preferable to travel in 4x4 or high ground clearance car.
• Bogota - La Calera 20kms 0.5 Hours tarmac road. Road toll before La Calera.
• La Calera - Piedras Gordas Gate 27 kms 1.5 Hours. Dirt road, good grade with gravel. Take turn to right 1km east of La Calera. You must show entry permit at gate. Small visitor center with snack shop etc.
• Piedras Gordas - Montreredondo 28 kms. Some sticky dirt road in the first 5kms, then improves. 1.5 hours.
• Monteredondo - Rio La Playa - Laguna Chingaza 20kms 1 hour, good dirt road.
The return trip is faster (mostly downhill) we made it from Rio La Playa to the center of Bogota (95kms) in under 3 hours.
Written March 3, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dr_Kello
Philadelphia, PA38 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2018 • Friends
Thanks to Sandra Atallah from Frontera Travel, we had an utterly amazing day in the park. She not only organized a van with a highly skilled driver, Carlos (who drove the Pope), but also had Guillermo a local guide along for the trip.

Every turn in this incredible park had its own ecosystem, which Guillermo explained. Despite the altitude, there were flowers and unique plants everywhere!

We had a delicious lunch at the hostel and then Guillermo and Sandra took our boys on a search for birds. He delivered too, because he spotted a rare bird. He lent his binoculars to our son and took a photo through them for a great photographic capture!

On the way out of the park, Guillermo saved the best for last. He had discovered a mummy twelve years earlier and wanted to show us before it got dark. I’ll leave that mystery for you to discover.
Written September 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Federico
Mexico City, Mexico15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2018 • Family
If you are looking for a different experience close to Bogota, this might be a good one.
The entrance to Chingaza National Park (Piedras Gordas) is almost 1,5hs from Bogota, on the way to La Calera, from where the road is unpaved.
It is important to be at the entrance before 10am so as to be able to take two trails before he park closes (if you decide not to stay overnight). Once in the park I recommend to take Laguna Seca and Monterredondo trails. From there you will be able to see deers and if you are lucky, bears.
The park closes at 4pm, so make sure to leave Monterredondo at least by 3pm.
Written April 2, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Federico
Mexico City, Mexico15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2017 • Solo
Although the road to Piedras Gordas entrance is really a disaster, the internal roads are in reasonably good state of conservation.
The trails I visited were not hard and had amazing views. It is important to remark that it is over 3000m so the temperature is below 8C and it is wet.
It is very recommended for family visits.
Written July 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mariannl1
London27 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2017 • Couples
I only found out two weeks before my trip, that you have to book a place to get into this park, but luckily the email booking process was easy and there was space. I couldn't choose from all trails though (or pick more than one); we did Sendero Lagunas de Buitrago. It is about 5km return. The way out to the lakes is up; not too steep but altitude made us go slowly. It was cloudy and chilly and at times the lakes where covered in fog, but we waited and eventually it was clear enough to have a good view. The scenery is amazing, the air is fresh and it is completely silent on the paramo.
The drive up from central Bogota on a Sunday was quite crazy though because of the hundreds and hundreds of cyclist cycling up to La Calera on Sunday morning.Once you come off the main road in La Calera, it is still about 20km on an unpaved road. The road condition is good though, and there are many signs. You will have to show your emails to get all the way to Piedras Gordas. At Piedras Gordas, you will have to sign in at the info centre and they will show you a video of the park. The girl in charge of that, spoke excellent English by the way.
Written March 10, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Chingaza National Park - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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